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PEEL DREAM MAGAZINENEW ALBUM“PAD”OUT NOW VIA SLUMBERLAND AND TOUGH LOVE RECORDS“
Written to a soundtrack of Tropicália, motorik, and library music”Pitchfork“It is the library music soundtrack for the best summer of our lives”Aquarium DrunkardOn his second Peel Dream Magazine record, Isn't Anything-era My Bloody Valentine dream-pop crusheshard on effervescent Stereolab melodies in a satisfyingly smooshed pastiche”NPR“You can hear shoegaze and classic Velvet Underground-style zone-outs and krautrock-indebted art-pop allcolliding in the band’s songs”StereogumThe follow-up to 2020’s breakthrough album Agitprop Alterna, Pad presents a major sonic evolution for the 34year old songwriter, who moved to Los Angeles amid the cataclysm that same year. Seventies era drum machinesand synthesizers remain here, but he’s traded his buzzing offset guitar for a nylon-string, opting for a gentlebaroque pop sound steeped in Bossa, folk, and its own eerie mysticism. Alongside mid century touchstones likeBurt Bacharach, Stevens draws on the cultishly-beloved tinkerings of late-1960s Beach Boys, offering a surrealmelange of vintage organs and found percussion, as well as Harry Nilsson’s 1970 song tapestryThe Point!.And similar toThe Point!, Pad is a conceptual work reflecting on isolation and identity. The album tells abedtime story in which Stevens’ bandmates kick him out of Peel Dream Magazine – banished and now withoutpurpose, he sets out on a journey to rejoin the band. Misadventures ensue, such as when he joins a cult on “SelfActualization Center”, featuring friend and oft collaborator Winter. But this is also music that’s purelypleasurable in its own context, as our protagonist explores the boundaries of easy-listening with discordanttextures, and bleeps and bloops that tickle. Songs like “Pictionary” chime delicately with sinister intent, evokinga palette that is outright Mod. Pad also recalls the space age bachelor stylings of Stereolab and The High Llamas,with an occult twist that borrows from Tropicalia legends Os Mutantes.While Pad sounds beautiful, there’s a certain darkness to it as well. Stevens is addressing our generalambivalence toward the future of everything we know, informed partly by his time in New York at the onset ofthe pandemic. On “Hiding Out”, he laments:Wander past the Vernon Mall, and up to Queensboro Bridge. Made tofeel I’m two feet small, but that’s no way to live.Ultimately, Stevens is embracing a first-thought-best-thoughtapproach, leaning into the fantastical elements of his own life story. Pad is as archetypal as it is strange, blurringthe very lines that it asks to be defined by. Art imitates life, but life imitates art too – and the results cansometimes be unpredictable.